Body Rules

The nib of ‘his’ pen dipped in familiar indigo,
as they formed letters to dictate familiar rules of ‘her’

The rules that made her flush crimson,
when her skirt spotted crimson stains.

The rules that caused her humiliation
for feeding her child in trains.

The rules that taught her right proportions
marking hips broad but with narrow waists.

The 9 pm deadlines, the fake orgasms all familiar versions
of the rule’s name.

The test of virginity she failed on the first night of marriage,
The test of fertility she failed after another miscarriage.
The sheer ease with which her body is plundered,
a few thrusts and it’s hers to carry,
the weight of the bastard burden.
That sheer ease that becomes her reason to never rebel, to be afraid.
She changes her body, hurts it even to let law and order prevail.

Not once does she question the authority
that decides her fate.
Overcome by the guilt for her desire to reclaim –
what’s hers and hers only.

Not once does she question the audacity
with which they only judge her reaction
and not the assault on her spirit, her body.

As if with a tape that sized the length of her skirt,
the depth of her cleavage,
with a gaze that scanned the hair on her arms,
the cellulite on her thighs.

They seek to measure, to know how hard she fought,
for how long she cried –
when he slipped out of his pants to rape her.

The rules let him go innocent,
held her dry eyes guilty.
her lids – heavy with fatigue
became his alibi,
and her ignominy.

Anahita Mehra is a public policy researcher and currently pursuing law from Faculty of Law, Delhi University. She tweets @anahita_mehra.

Featured image credit: @brisch27/Unsplash